Readily described as a young garage rock band, Catfish and the Bottlemen bluster into their highly polished debut album The Balcony with many of the traits of a garage rock band primed and ready for the radio. Their relative youth is so hidden behind frontman Van McCann's weathered and assured vocals, that if it wasn't for the (at times) crude lyrics, it would be easy to mistake the band for one slightly wiser beyond their years and with a few more albums under their belt. The Welsh-based outfit's music is easy on the ear, with grand Johnny Marr-inspired guitar hooks that are unapologetically catchy, gritty, and full of swagger in the same vein as indie rock types the Cribs, Feeder, and Mystery Jets. Without the hype and build-up that was afforded to many other British guitar bands of Catfish's ilk -- from the highly successful Arctic Monkeys, the moderately successful the Vaccines, and the quick demise of Viva Brother -- the four-piece tirelessly toured their music by any means necessary, and eventually their familiar, youthful anthems of love, alcohol, and growing up were picked up by Communion/Island Records.
With nods across the Atlantic to the Walkmen, the Jim Abiss-produced breakout single "Kathleen" shows McCann at his talismanic best, while the emotional "Fallout" displays the lyrical maturity of which the band are obviously capable, but fall short of at times. However, the raw emotion and directness Catfish embody is likely to resonate closely with their audience, whether it's the story of a relationship with an older woman in "26," or the fizzing chorus to opener "Homesick," they are fearless in their delivery. Beneath their poppier melodies and anthemic choruses underlies the D.I.Y. garage-rock ethic that inspired their quick ascent, and it's this mixture that places them firmly between the pop charts and dingy rock club basements.